RECOGNISING WHAT MATTERS

by .

Several years ago I did the Emirates stadium tour . Our host was the inimitable Charlie George and he was a delight to chat to, Charlie is almost an exact contemporary of mine and I was telling him a story about pre-season training in the summer of 1971 in a local park. I noticed all the boys around me playing football and on scoring, falling to the ground in an imitation of Charlie’s iconic celebration at Wembley a couple of months earlier . He smiled at this and one of our group asked him how well he knew the current team ( this was around the summer of 2014 ) . Charlie looked back a little forlornly and said ‘ Nobody in that dressing room has a clue who I am ‘. It stunned our group because Charlie George was, we thought, a special figure in Arsenal history and even very much younger players would appreciate his place in the history of the club, particularly as he was an Arsenal ambassador, who appeared at the club regularly . But Charlie was clearly sincere and mentioned that when he did see any of the current team they walked straight past him .

Does that matter ? Many people reading this may not realise who Charlie is and what he and his teammates did for the club but in May 1971 Arsenal will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the first of three League and Cup doubles that we have recorded. It was a VERY big deal fifty years ago. Arsenal had emerged from a barren period of 17 years with no silverware by winning the Fairs Cup in 1970. The following season they mounted a challenge for the League and Cup which also encompassed a Fairs Cup defence that saw them attacked in the street after an official banquet by Lazio players and a League Cup campaign. That season they played 64 games on pitches that were mudheaps in winter and barren deserts in spring .

On the website www.Goonerholicsforever.com we are commemorating the Double triumph and at the same time trying to raise money for the Willow Foundation . Willow is the charity that was set up by Bob Wilson the goalkeeper of that Double team and his wife Megs to mark the death of their daughter Anna from a rare form of cancer at the age of 32. It seeks to provide special experiences for terminally ill people or those receiving palliative care aged between 18-40 . Please visit the site in May and try to donate or enter our online auction for memorabilia signed by members of the team. I’ve known Bob for a number of years and he is the go-to person for radio and tv when they want to discuss Arsenal, Arsene Wenger or goalkeeping in general . He was the person the club chose to host Wenger’s leaving presentation in 2018 . If there is a better candidate for ‘ Mr Arsenal ‘ I’ve yet to meet him and had the Arsenal board co-opted an ex-player onto the board there could not have been many better choices. As part of our commemoration on GF we’ve recorded a couple of podcasts with Bob and Pat Rice who was the right-back in the Double side , captain of the Cup winners in 1979 and of course assistant to Arsenal Wenger until 2012 . What story did they have to tell and why does it still matter now ? 

Before beginning to tell you, Let me tell you I’m 70 and have supported Arsenal since 1958. I’ve seen well over 1500 games and my family support spans five generations from a grandfather who watched Arsenal play at Woolwich to a grandson of 11 who loves the club too. I went to around twenty games at Highbury in that double season but played myself on Saturdays so most of the games I saw were in midweek. I did get to some London away games too. Beginning that season Arsenal had a bit of momentum having just won the Fairs Cup although there were no incomings in the close season. There was no transfer window then but the side had several injuries. Jon Sammels missed several early games and Peter Simpson one of the finest defenders never to play for England was seriously injured too. In the first game at Everton Charlie George broke his leg in scoring the first equaliser in a 2-2 draw, a very decent result as Everton were the reigning champions . The side started the season well despite having to make many changes . Peter Storey joined Eddie Kelly and George Graham in midfield. John Roberts a giant Welshman replaced Simpson and Ray Kennedy joined John Radford in a two-pronged attack. Kennedy had scored the away goal that effectively won Arsenal the Fairs Cup but was very inexperienced. He and Radford notched 50 goals between them in the Double season. The season began with a series of very good results and few defeats . Arsenal were unbeaten at home all season ( remember what that feels like ?!) in the League and were a very well-organised defensive side. Talk to any of those players and they attribute this to the coaching of Don Howe although they do recognise the organisational ability of Bertie Mee (my pen name on Le Grove!) who was a foil to Howe who had been a top- class defender. I had expected the team’s form to dip but they were consistent away from home and produced a set of excellent performances coming into Christmas. The one exception was a 5-0 thrashing at Stoke who were a very high-quality outfit then. Think Tony Waddington not Tony Pulis! 

It was a time when the identity of future champions was hard to work out. Everton were champions but we thrashed them 4-0 at Highbury. Chelsea had just won the Cup and played some stylish football. Liverpool were an emerging force and Manchester City were a side full of attacking flair ( although we beat them twice at Maine Road that season). Spurs won the League Cup and eventually finished third. But the favourites were Leeds. They were the toughest competitors and the best football team in the country but had a tendency to fall at the last hurdle . But they emerged as our biggest rival as we emerged into the New Year, trailing a few points behind them ( and there were only two points for a win ).

When the cup campaign began in January we were given away draws in every round. Yeovil were not a serious problem but we needed a tight replay to dispose of Portsmouth then produced a superb display to beat Manchester City with the restored Charlie George scoring two spectacular goals. At that moment the press began to talk about the possibility of a double. Arsenal had stayed in touch in the League but trailed Leeds by 7 points. Fortunately we began a brilliant league run which saw us claw back that lead until a Saturday in April when Leeds and Arsenal were both at home. We played Newcastle and Leeds played West Brom another side who had tremendous attacking power ( although we had beaten them 6-2 at Highbury in September ). Arsenal clinched victory through a late George thunderbolt. Leeds meanwhile were on the wrong end of a 2-1 defeat where the referee had allowed a demonstrably offside goal by Jeff Astle to count . We were top of the league heading for the finish !

Stoke reared their head again in the Cup semi-final at Hillsborough. The first half was a disaster. A deflection off their captain gave them a fluke first goal and a George back pass fell short for Ritchie to round the stranded Wilson for their second. In the second half Peter Storey , one of the toughest players in Arsenal history saw a deflected shot cut the arrears and then in the last minute he was tasked with taking a penalty kick to save the match after Stoke’s Mahoney had dived full-length to save a Mclintock header. Storey’s kick was one of the worst I’ve ever seen but Gordon Banks probably the best keeper in the world then had his weight on the wrong foot and it crept in. Stoke were crushed mentally and lost the replay 2-0.

In the league we suffered a desperately late reverse at Leeds which put them back into contention but we went into the last week of the season needing to win our last three games to clinch the Double . We beat Stoke in a nervy game at home 1-0 and then on the Monday travelled to White Hart Lane for our last game . To do justice to the atmosphere of that game and to see how events unfolded do check Goonerholics Forever in early May . I was locked out of the ground in common with 60,000 other people . We needed to win or draw 0-0 to take the title because of goal difference. A Ray Kennedy header with minutes to go gave us victory after a titanic battle on a night when more people were locked out than got into White Hart Lane. The vast majority were Arsenal fans .

We went to Wembley on the Saturday as champions and produced a really solid performance. It was 0-0 at 90 minutes although we had dominated but an early Heighway goal in extra time looked likely to break our hearts. Then a very strange goal which to this day has not been definitively attributed to Kelly or George Graham ( who was outstanding on the day ) brought us level and Charlie George scored with a superb drive in the second half to clinch the Cup and the Double and trigger that iconic celebration. Again the GF account will give you all the drama from the players and some of us lucky enough to be there.

When I was talking to Bob a few weeks ago I told him that as the team were running towards us at Wembley before the start I had a concern that having won the league that would be enough for them. I asked Bob if that had ever occurred to them and the look on his face made it very clear that it never crossed their minds. Frank Mclintock one of the great figures in Arsenal history and a captain still revered by his surviving team mates had lost four times at Wembley. The team were all desperate to win for him and for fans starved of domestic success for so long. But above all they were great competitors and to me they were heroes. And win they did .

As I reflected on the question I asked Bob I realised what a 2021 attitude that is. Arsenal has never had a tougher , more committed team than that one. It has had many better football teams but never one I can remember trusting more to hold a lead . Those players , those that survive, as Armstrong that tireless winger and Roberts have died , and many others are in poor health, deserve to be recognised and as we wade through the squalid detritus of the ESL it is poignant to reflect on a team that achieved great glory but whose players are not recognised by lesser players of the current era. That’s a metaphor for football that doesn’t reflect well on our game .

That week in May was one of the very best of my Arsenal – supporting life. The day after the Final 750.000 people thronged the streets of North London and the club celebrated an achievement only accomplished once before in modern football history at that time . When you are 70 you look back much more than you look forward especially when your club is owned by Stan Kroenke . I look back with pride and satisfaction and a sense that what we had achieved was very special. And it remains special fifty years on .

Authored by Peter Le Beaum (Bertie Mee in the comments)

Please visit www.goonerholicsforever.com to see our Double commemoration in association with the Willow Foundation from May 3rd – 8th .

 

729 Responses to “RECOGNISING WHAT MATTERS”

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  1. Graham

    Brilliant article. I grew up as an Arsenal fan in the 1970s, starting with some depressing years as the Double team was allowed to fall apart – so reading about 1971 sustained me for years.

    Very small clarification – the league was judged on Goal Average rather than Goal Difference which meant the draw has to be 0-0 as you say and that a 1-1 draw (or 2-2 like in 2004) would have given the title to Leeds.

  2. Jamie

    Lovely.

    I went on a stadium tour with John Radford once. He talked about Charlie George the whole time, opining how many tens of millions of pounds a player like Charlie George would cost today.

    Then, much like in today’s piece, Radford lamented how no one knew who Charlie George was these days as he was stood in front of that huge mural of CG inside the Emirates. Sad, really.

  3. Johng

    It was that team that drew me towards being an Arsenal fan as a very young boy, no mean feat as I grew up in a very staunch West ham area

  4. RockyRoe

    My word, what a brilliant read. Bertie, you little gem.

    Though I did not have the privilege to watch stalwarts like Charlie George on the pitch (before my time) I’ve seen countless videos of these heroes making the club and fans proud.

    Sadly football has lost its sense of history and pride with teams full of mercenaries. But then again, I suppose you cannot blame them as you would hardly expect someone from Argentina playing in his 3rd club to have a clue about the history of the club. That’s why guys like Wilshire will always have a special place in my heart, proper gooners who supported the club as fans before becoming players.

  5. R A Clarke

    Wow that brought back memories. Fourteen year old me watching Charlie hit that goal on a black and white TV.
    Living in East London a stones throw from Upton Park but Arsenal was and is my team.
    Only the Invincibles matched that time

  6. HerbsArmy

    I was a little kid discovering football through my love of Arsenal, and the ’70-71 ‘Double’ winners were all heroes.
    Excellent read for a Saturday morning, thank you for sharing the wonderful memories.

  7. Paddy got bored

    Absolutely great post.
    So sad that we’re all reduced to reminiscing of times past as the future currently looks so bleak

  8. andy1886

    Thanks Bertie, fascinating stuff. My first game (aged just 5) was in the winter of 1970. I don’t remember much, more the atmosphere, the noise, the smells (the chips on the way home). By a process of elimination I worked out that it would have been the Palace game on November 14th which would’ve been a coincidence since it’s likely that Mel Blyth would have been playing for Palace that day. Before we moved to Essex we lived nest door to Mel’s mum in Norwich and my first recollection of football was kicking a ball in my front garden with this big bloke from next door, little knowing that he was a pro footballer.

    Anyway, to the main point the only other team that might come near that side in terms of determination and Arsenal spirit was, probably by no coincidence, the side manager by George Graham in the late eighties/early nineties. So it’s probably fair to say that not only George but the ‘spirit of ’71’ was partly responsible for our next title win seventeen long years later.

  9. Valentin

    When Freddie initially joined the youth team coaching staff, there were players who had no idea who he was. One the car park of a U18 game, a dad introduced Freddie to his 10 years kid as Red Freddie. The kid complained that Freddie was not native american and that therefore the red did not make sense. The dad had to then explain that the red was due to Freddie dying his hair red. The kid then said he has no hair, he should be renamed bald Freddie. The dad was so embarrassed, but to be fair Freddie took it all in his stride.

    Once I saw Dennis Bergkamp with Johan Cruyff attend an Arsenal U18 game with Arsène Wenger and while most people of my generation were in awe and had to make a double take to check that we were not hallucinating a lot of the youngsters did not know who were the two gentlemen with Wenger.

    Every generations have their idols and when it passes then idols passe with it. Some stay in the collective imagination because of what they have done, but the majority fade away.

  10. Thank you and goodnight

    Real fucking legends. Not made up legends like Arteta.
    Wenger gave us a lot of great memories……BUT….. that night at anfield in my opinion will never be bettered. I remember it so well, I was 14 at the time, remembered crying tears of joy

  11. englandsbest

    Pedro, I’m even older than you. I watched every one of the Saturday games at Highbury that year we first won the Double. And, like you, as a youngster I watched only an occasional midweek game because I preferred to kick a ball myself on Saturdays.

    I also recall how aghast we were that Bertie Mee, a trainer not a player, was appointed manager. The saving grace was Don Howe as his assistant. It turned out to be a marriage made in heaven – though the divorce came soon enough.

    Moving on, the appointment of Arteta was just as radical. A rookie. But experience is a matter of experience, and now he is no longer a rookie. Those who doubt him ought to read the Sky interview. It’s the man who counts, exactly as it did 50 years ago.

  12. Thank you and goodnight

    I think it was made even more special because there were quite a few homegrown players in that squad, Rocky and Michael Thomas were my favourites. I was always Rocky when I played football at school. Legend RIP

  13. Old bloke.

    Great piece of Arsenal history reminding me of my youth and early years supporting the team. Football and society has certainly changed since the 1960’s /70’s. Life for working class people was hard and you had to be physically tough to survive and being a footballer was the same.
    Obviously we were well aware of recent history as our parents generation had fought in the war and we all respected what they had done for the country.
    I find that youger people today are not that interested in looking back but are more focused on the future and its potential problems. Thats fare enough i suppose.
    Anyway you tend to remember the good times but looking back being a fan could be dangerous with hooliganism being rife and unsafe stadiums. Mind you the atmosphere could be electric as it was on the north bank when we won the Fairs Cup, an incredible night never to be forgotten.
    I still enjoy supporting the gunners and attend games regularly although this season has been difficult for you obvious reasons. As for the future,who knows what will happen but i go into each new season fairly confident we won’t get relegated!
    .

  14. Les Beaumont

    I, too, was one of the 60,000 locked out of WHL in 1971, together with my Dad. He went home but I stayed around and managed to sneak in past the policeman when they opened the big gates with a few minutes to go to let the crowds flock out. I got to the back of the terrace just as Ray Kennedy scored the winner.

    I was living in a flat just a few minutes from the ground in Northumberland Park. When I got home I hung anything red I could find out of the windows and began shouting and singing. My wife was horrified, expecting the windows to be put in with a brick at any moment. Luckily, they weren’t.

  15. Tom

    “… the appointment of Arteta was just as radical. A rookie. But experience is a matter of experience, and now he is no longer a rookie. Those who doubt him ought to read the Sky interview. It’s the man who counts, exactly as it did 50 years ago.“

    As far as I’m concerned the only important talking Arteta should be doing 18 months in is with his football decisions, and especially on match days.
    I’ll pass on his Sky interview.

  16. G

    Remember my nephew doing the tour and put Charlie George on the phone.. couldn’t believe I was talking to him. Obviously spoke about that goal v Liverpool.. Nice memory

  17. andy1886

    TYAG – Yup, it was fantastic to see those young lads come through. Looking back what an amazing job George did to mould a title winning squad out of young players and some journeymen and lower league players. Unlike certain managers he didn’t need to spend big every season and bleat about transfer funds. In those earlier successful days the only big signings we made were Smudger and Big Dave.

    Those sides were the very definition of a team greater than the sum of the parts. Now we have the reverse, a collection of individuals performing well below their potential.

  18. Nelson

    Those were the glory days. I would like to see that the club can progress with time. KSE is leaving the club in the hands of two rookies doing trial and errors.

  19. Spanishdave

    We are an iconic club with so many links with football history.
    The owners hav’nt a clue what the club stands for, he and his family are taking us into purgatory with no sense if direction.
    Too many poor quality employees are taking the money with no added value in their services.
    We certainly are slowly going down

  20. Biggles

    I enjoyed this. Whilst this in particular predates me, it does remind me of a time when you could have a proper connection with your club. That’s slipping away now, and it’s sad.

  21. TT

    Saw this game a week later on a Saturday as My country had no satellite reception and the film had to be flown in.

    I would have been 7 years old at the time and became a Arsenal fan that day…mainly because Arsenal FC had a cannon as its emblem and the other had a bird of some sort 😀

  22. Pierre

    That article was spot on .

    Couldn’t have said it better myself..I was there all the way ..
    Including first the misery of losing to Leeds and Swindon I the league cup finals and then the never to be forgotten night at Highbury in 1970.
    The fa Cup and league cup semi finals at that time.were better than the finals in some ways, hillsborough, villa Park, white Hart Lane in the league cup semi….

    I feel sorry for the kids of today who will never experience what we did back then , going to the games with your mates and paying at the turnstiles, .my mum would even queue up for fa cup tickets as I was at school
    Saving the programme coupons and then the wait to see if the cup final ticket would arrive….

    Different world now .

  23. Rich

    Really nice write up

    Success in football comes in cycles, when you’re young you think success will last forever, and tend to take the good times for granted

    As you get older you learn to enjoy the good times much more, and ride the bad times a little bit better

    We’re probably stuck with KSE, hopefully they can pull a visionary from somewhere, who can steer this ship away from the rocks, and into the sunlit uplands

    Would love to see us win another top flight title over the next few years

  24. alexanderhenry

    Yep, football has changed.

    Every club had a specific character, not least arsenal. That’s disappearing fast partly due to player transfer merry go round, poorer fans being priced out and the way FIFA are trying to make football a non contact sport.
    It’s never going to return to how it was , but arsenal could and should make more of its past.
    Sometimes I’m not sure what arsenal’s identity actually is these days.

    Anyway, this was before my time but my dad was at the final and he made sure I was proud of it:

  25. Colney Gooner

    Thanks for the fantastic memories Bertie. I was at the Lane that night in 71, standing on the Shelf and can still see Kennedy’s header sailing into the net. I couldn’t get a ticket to the Cup Final but my dad went and he also attended the league game at Leeds, he’s 93 now and still a loyal Gooner.
    A few years ago I arranged to take my 10 year old grandson on the stadium tour and when I asked him who he would like to do the tour he chose Nigel Winterburn and he was a great guide and also my grandson’s favourite player from that era for some reason. My best night was being on the North Bank (after climbing over the turnstiles for 10 Bob) in 71 when we beat Anderlect 3-0 to win the Fairs Cup and being on the pitch afterwards. Great memories, thanks!

  26. Gazza

    Thr first ever Arsenal match I went to was the 6-2 home win vs WBA in that 70/71 double winning season..I was only 9 at the time and was just getting into footy but at that stage didn’t actually support any team & just had a favourite player Alan Ball at Everton at the time.. That game cemented my love for Arsenal ever since although current times & the ownership make this harder..

    Back then you could just turn up and buy entrance at the turnstile..my dad & family had gone down from Northampton where we lived to shop in Oxford Street, however I got bored by lunchtime so my dad decided to take me to a game in London that pm.

    Lucky for me Arsenal were playing at home that particular Saturday & Highbury was the easiest ground to get to from our nearest tube station..

    God forbid another week I could have ended up a S***s, Chelsea or QPR fan…so small mercies.

    Also Ironically Alan Ball joined from Everton the following year so making my choice of clubs even better.

  27. James wood.

    Bought a little lump to my throat Bertie.
    All around my time.
    I went to the same school as Charlie ,a great fellow who I new
    quite well.
    The history Charlie left on the club is huge.
    There was not many who could strike as well as him.
    Great article.

  28. Cazorla

    We’ve lost games on fine margins and by individual mistakes, improvements just against the teams around us (villa 0 points, everton 0 points, wolves 0 points) and below us will see us easily competing for top 4 whilst still remaining a decent cup side.

    It’s not difficult if you choose to look at the bigger picture.

  29. Chris

    A very nice read, thank you.

    My dad used to tell me about how he went to the title clincher at White Hart Lane that year, and my mum who was born and raised Liverpudlian actually went to the cup final with some Arsenal supporting colleagues, to this day she calls Charlie George ‘rat face’ as he broke her heart that day!

    The CG winner in the cup final is one of the highlighted goals I grew up watching, along with Michael Thomas at Anfield and Liam Brady’s goal at Spurs, and a few others in that time frame.

    1993 and the Steve Morrow league cup final was my first memory of watching us win a trophy, too young to stay up for Andy Linighans winner at Wembley the same year but was allowed to stay up for the Parma win in 1994. I just hope that isn’t my only memory of Arsenal winning a European trophy.

  30. Cyril

    What a lovely article. I don’t usually post but you have made me realise even more so the disenchantment and detachment I have with this club now by comparison. I have been going to Arsenal for 40 years and a ST holder for 25 years. However, I will not be going back to Arsenal. It’s over. And I won’t be the only one!

  31. Rich

    Cazorla

    I completely agree with that analogy

    We need to make some astute moves this summer, and clear out plenty of deadwood in a decimated transfer market

    If we get it right, then making up 15- 20 points is feasible, which would at least put us into the mix

    But if we get it wrong, then the margins in front of us can become even bigger, and the margins behind us even smaller

    Seems like a risk too far allowing Edu + Arteta loose with the cheque book this summer

  32. Spanishdave

    Cyril
    It’s hard to suffer this mess the club lost its way ten years ago when the shareholders betrayed the fans by selling to foreign owners, both of which were not real fans.
    Kronke has ripped the heart out of the club, for money he really doesn’t need.
    The only way out is for the fans not going to matches, boycotting the club until new owners are on board.
    A big ask but it’s the only way

  33. James wood.

    Cyril 12.57
    Absolutely agree my memories from then and the successfulL Wenger years.will not be replicated again.

    One can wish 🤞🏻But realistically it’s a NO.
    I TO WILL BE FAR MORE SELECTIVE IN MY VIEWING.
    Sad times for Arsenal.?

  34. Leedsgunner

    Lovely post. Thank you.

    We are an amazing club with an amazing history. In our present morass we have forgotten this.

    If I was Arteta I wouldn’t do a team talk when we play Emery’s men.

    I would show them famous winning goals from our proud history… do they want to be part of this or not?

    The following clip would be in my selection… surely one of the finest moments in Arsenal’s history?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAZK5PpOZOQ

    No doubt in today’s game with its pro Liverpool media and pundits and error prone VAR referees, they would have ruled it out!

  35. Dissenter

    How do you determine temperament and determination in a player during scouting.
    Who could have foreseen Torriera being such a melt.

    No one seems to want him and he just wants to go back home. Has he forgotten someone paid big money for him.
    We shouldn’t let him go back unless he’s willing to pay Arsenal the balance of his transfer value.

  36. Matt B

    Lovely article Bertie — thank you.

    Brings back memories of my Dad who passed away 18 months ago — he was there at Wembley in 71. Although I was too young to watch football then or to even follow it, those players played a big part in my understanding of AFC.

    They are part of the reason why we have (had?) a solid and respected reputation in the game.

    Respect to you and they

  37. Matt B

    Leedsgunner

    Well that was emotional to relive that again and agreed, without a shadow of a doubt, one of our greatest ever moments!

  38. Rich

    We should never have sent Torreira to Atletico Madrid, we should have sent him somewhere he’d play every week, so we either put him in the shop window, or we bring back a more experienced player into our squad

    He’s a decent enough player, who’s now at a good age for a midfielder, even in this market, he’d be excellent value for someone at £18-20 million

    Not sure what we do with Guendouzi?

    12 months left on his contract, and gone from one of the highest valued teenagers in the world, to a position where we could end up losing him for free

    I quite like him as a player, he’s got a good level of experience for 22, 50+ PL games, 80+ games for Arsenal, French under 21 captain, speaks fluent English

    Surely some manager will fancy their chances taming him, picking him up for £20 million, and flipping him for £40-£50 million in 24-36 months time

    Unless he’s that much trouble, nobody will go near him

  39. andy1886

    Things that piss me off:

    Fullbacks that can’t defend
    Too many athletes not enough footballers
    Tackling is almost prohibited
    No mavericks
    Formulaic game plans
    ‘Keepers chosen for their skills with their feet rather than their hands
    Insistance on playing out from the back
    False fucking nines!!

    And don’t get me started on the commercialisation (read ‘cheapening’) of the game.

  40. Moray

    Great reminiscences, thanks Bertie. My Arsenal years really began in the early 80s.

    Anfield 1989 will never be surpassed for the rush though the early Wenger years were amazing and the football week in, week out was glorious.

    Very proud of the club’s history. It makes the current ownership so much more depressing.

  41. Tom

    Zaha with a near nervous breakdown in the City game today.
    Did the £80 million asking price for him include a full time shrink as well?
    Asking resident Zaha fanboys.

  42. AFC Forever

    Bertie

    Brilliant write up. Thanks Pedro too!

    Most young fans have no idea how big a deal that double in 1970/1 was. Ten years previous Spurs had won it, the only other team to have done the double. In those days success was harder to come by because it couldn’t be bought. Doubles were difficult achievements because the FA Cup itself was a major trophy that everyone wanted to win. There were 42 games in a league season and only one substitute allowed and pitches were terrible. In fact, substitutions had only been around for around 6 years, it was 1965 when Keith Peacock became the first player to enter the field of play as a substitute. A substitute played a part in our victory.

    The 1970/71 FA Cup Final took place on a blistering day. Nobody wanted extra time but a pretty drab 0-0 after 90 minutes made that a reality. Within a minute of extra time, Larry Lloyd, who was deep within Liverpool’s own half found Steve Heighway in space on the left flank. Highway , a tricky winger, made his way into the box firing a low ball from the edge of the penalty area which went into Bob Wilson’s near post. A minute later Bob Wilson saved smartly from Toshack. Liverpool were on top. In the 11th minute we equalised, the substitute Eddie Kelly finding the corner of the net, with a shot on the turn that went under George Graham’s legs. The commentators initially credited Graham with the goal having thought he had made the slightest of touches because of his wild goal celebrations. Later, replays showed Kelly had scored and he was credited with becoming the first substitute ever to score in an FA Cup final.

    After the equaliser several players were falling to the ground struggling with cramp and the winners were going to be the team who wanted it most. In the second period, Radford found George and his shot into the top corner is remembered more for his iconic celebration than the excellent finish it was. I believe Charlie has said the celebration wasn’t planned he was just so knackered he lied on the turf with his arms in the air.

    I remember the day vividly and to this day I still have a retro 1970/71 yellow and blue shirt with the embroidered cannon in my shirt collection. To top it all off, I can remember the open-top bus parade around Highbury corner and into Upper Street towards the Town Hall. It was a remarkable achievement and a day many of us older Gooners will never forget. We are lucky to remember football in its purest form when trophies meant so much more because they were so unpredictable and earned through blood and sweat, not money. Those memories of our first double-winning team will last forever.

    Please give to the Willow Foundation it’s a wonderful cause.

  43. Dissenter

    Xhaka is the architect of his lent up frustrations
    He should have never extended his Palace deal. He thought there was a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that he would be allowed to move if a reasonable deal came calling. He didn’t understand he was Palace’s anchor to stay in the premier league.

    The £75 million we made for him, even if it was staggered payments was a damn reasonable deal.
    He’s spent the vast majority of his career at a mid table club and never played a champion’s league game. Noe he’s just angry that he doesn’t get the protection big team’s players get.

    He looks like his lost his appetite for the game and needs a long summer’s rest.

  44. Dissenter

    Pablo Mari; “ We have to go full gas from minute zero and go with everything to win the game. (on Thursday)”

    So long as there’s no one playing with fire, “full gas” is fine.

  45. Leftside

    This is a wonderful club with a great history and traditions. Our standards nowadays need realigning because we should be aiming for far more.

  46. HerbsArmy

    Today’s Post reminds us of the class associated with Arsenal, and why many of us started supporting this great club.
    We are so far away from that place today it is literally gut wrenching and depressing.
    Someone give us our Arsenal back.

  47. Tom

    “The £75 million we made for him, even if it was staggered payments was a damn reasonable deal.“

    Not to CP , apparently, since right off the top £19m would be going to United.

  48. mike griffin

    Thanks Bertie for a brilliant piece.I managed to get a ticket to the final along with my Dad.Will never forget Charlie’s goal.Living in Islington Charlie would shop in the same bakers as me.All ways had time for a chat.So sad the way our club as gone.Not sure I’ll be renewing my ST.
    Keep up the good work Pedro.

  49. Goldinho

    Fantastic read
    I’m a too young to remember that,but I’ve had some of the best nights of my life down upper st or on the cally when we’ve won things.
    There was a reason we were called The Arsenal.
    Them cunts in charge now have got no idea what it means to be an Arsenal fan
    Fucking cancer to the club

  50. Almuniasaynomore

    Bertie,
    That was a little ray of joy you brought with you from the past and decided that today was the day to share it. Thank you very much. There is a constant debate in Ireland about professionalising our national sports hurling and Gaelic football which although played by amateurs are played to professional standards and require full time dedication. The money and goodwill to reward these players is there but many feel that it would also be the beginning of the end,the start of the process which separates the players from the communities/fans they represent. Your article and the responses it evoked reminded why I fell in love with football and why I struggle now to maintain that same love. I particularly liked Andy’s recollection of having a pro footballer next door who wasn’t above having a kick around with his neighbour’s son. We still have that here and our national sports are thriving. Football on the other hand is in the doldrums and many good people are at a loss as to how we can reconnect the people with the game.. It’s no secret that materialism and greed are now destroying that which we love but articles like yours remind me of one important thing, the fans still love the game,hunger for it in fact and are desperate to find a reconnection with their club,so where there’s a will….
    Anyway thank you for that breath of fresh air,a lovely reminder of what we had and hopefully can have again.

    Tony
    I hope you and yours are well. Appreciate the words today, I’ll leave that be for now,your suggestion on how to treat baiting will be taken on board. It’s a special type of fan that sacrifices their nights sleep to watch the games, gives your opinions all the more weight for me. You, China and the other regular early morning contributors are essential reading with my breakfast, hang on ,the corner has to be coming soon!

  51. Rich

    Staying in the PL is worth £80 – £100 million per season

    Getting relegated costs £80 -£100 million for every season out of the PL

    Champions League potentially generates between £35 – £100 million for English clubs

    United used to be able to pick off players from the rest of the PL, in a similar way to Bayern do now, what’s changed particularly in very recent years, is that PL teams can pick off players from any clubs they want outside of around 15 or so clubs across the globe, because we can afford to pay higher wages

    And it’s not worth it for Villa to sell Grealish for £80 million, or Zaha for £70 million, because staying in the PL even for 1 more season is worth more

    The core business of football clubs is winning football games, people don’t part with their hard earned cash on season tickets, tv subscriptions, merchandise, and overpriced hot dogs

    Not unless you can provide a product that people want to engage with, football clubs need to ensure the value they provide is on the football pitch

    David Dein once said “Put it right on the pitch, and the rest will take care of itself”

  52. China1

    Rich whilst being in the prem is obviously worth a fortune I think your numbers might be over simplistic and a bit off

    Aren’t there quite significant parachute payments for relegated teams?

    Also you’re assuming you get PL money for being in the PL and absolutely no money for being in the Championship. Whilst I don’t know the figures that surely can’t be correct. The championship must also get a slice of tv money and the like although obviously vastly smaller than the PL money

  53. Aaron

    Bertie,

    This is a true piece of writing and sentiment.

    Am only a fan from mid 70’s on and can only imagine what it must have felt like.
    From across the pond, however played and watched futbol from a very young age, me best mate was from London, and I only had two choices, AFC or Chelsea. Made the correct choice and the rest is history.

    There are always others before us that have laid the groundwork, in all aspects of life. However, in postmodern thought the past is relegated to it’s worst parts, cut into tiny pieces and discarded to the dust bin, and never revered for what it truly was at that time.

    Thank you for reminding many of this fact.

  54. Peckobill

    Rich
    Dein’s quote is in the money unfortunately it’s something arteta will never have the ability to achieve

  55. Almuniasaynomore

    Rich
    I like your thinking and Dein’s philosophy as you mentioned. But how does football deal with the curse of the agents. They are the ones in the equation who don’t need good results/ attractive football to make money. Arguably every other group wants/needs footballing success (players,managers, fans,sponsors, even owners.) But the agents are as likely to benefit from destabilising the game and undermining relationships as from contributing positively. Every broken dream,unsettled player,is another move,another cut of a transfer fee. They are like the tabloids who benefit from disharmony and ,I suspect, actively seek to create it. To get back the game we love they are the greatest cancer that must be removed. Thoughts?

  56. Elmo

    Almunia
    “Football on the other hand is in the doldrums and many good people are at a loss as to how we can reconnect the people with the game”

    What the last couple of weeks confirmed for us was that those now in ownership of the biggest clubs in the land explicitly do not value connecting local people and communities into the tapestry of the club and its history.

    Legacy fans. Low margin customers. Pushy, inconvenient, expectant.

    Kroenke, of course, has history in literally uprooting a club from one city to another, paying off any lawsuits from those fighting to maintain the heritage, loading the club onto a truck, and driving off with it.

  57. China1

    Also not sure I can agree that it’s necessarily smarter to keep a player like graelish over the 80m transfer fee

    80m in this market can buy you two excellent players. As awesome as graelish is there’s a serious question mark that keeping him is worth more than buying two (suitable) 40m players to replace him. Or a handful of bargains

  58. Almuniasaynomore

    Elmo
    That’s the sad reality about the owner’s attitude. There is a glimmer of hope that I’m clinging to for their next attempted breakaway. Some posters pointed out that moving the club’s, metaphorically speaking, is an attempt to penetrate new markets,but this has been tried before by other sports and those markets are simply not going to prove receptive. Think about how American football has tried to capitalize on their popularity in the 80’s by bringing the game to Europe. It’s failed. Most cultures are already saturated with sports some of which are deeply embedded in their nation’s psyche. These are irreplaceable. Hence after initial success( j-league)the sport will fall back on the legacy fan to buy the tv packages. It is then that we strike and tell them where to shove it. That’s my hope as fragile as it may be.

  59. Rich

    China1

    It’s difficult to measure exactly, they say it’s worth a minimum £170 over 3 seasons for promoted teams that get relegated in their first season

    And £290 million for clubs that survive the first season over 5 year period, once you take into account for parachute payments

    But that doesn’t account for additional sponsorship, manufacturing, additional gate receipts……

    Promotion to the PL which is the most watched league in the world, in the most watched sport, opens up all types of avenues to additional revenue

    The numbers I’ve seen floated around by people with expertise in this type of thing are £80-£100 million per season

    Arsenal’s sponsorship and manufacturing deals are apparently heavily incentivised based on European qualification, and I’d imagine they’d also have relegation clauses inserted

    It would be different for every club, but the value for football teams is certainly on the pitch

    Without a football team that people want to pay to watch, and engage in your product, you don’t have a product

    People don’t pay the prices they do, just because they like your hot dogs, or the colour of your shirts

  60. Rich

    Almuniasaynomore

    The problem with agents fees isn’t the agent fees

    The problem is the talent pool is too small

    If they increase the the size of the talent pool, then transfer fees, wages, and agent fees, will naturally come down

  61. Rich

    Sheffield United who finished 9th last season

    The club’s financial accounts for 2019-20 revealed that their turnover shot up to £143.1 million from £20.8 million in 2018-19 following promotion to the top flight. The 2019-20 turnover represents a record high for the club.

  62. Alan Lewis

    What a brilliant piece. Thank you. I am just a few years older than you and as a lifelong Arsenal fan, this brought back so many happy memories. I was in the North Bank for the Fairs Cup 2nd leg. I remember we were getting desperate and I think about 10 minutes from the end, Jon Sammels unleashed a belter into the next. Sheer joy and not a few tears followed when the whistle blew. For the title clincher at White Hart Lane, I arrived to start queuing to get in at 4pm. It was packed to the rafters ( health and safety wouldn’t allow it now) I think The Spurs ground had a 58000 capacity but I imagine there were more than that.. When Ray Kennedy leapt up to head the winner, well the Arsenal fans exploded with joy.
    Up the gunners !

  63. Danny

    Thankyou so much Peter Le Beaum (Bertie Mee), great post.
    I went to Highbury for a few matches that season. I can still hear my brother’s laugh when Highway scored but of course I had the last one (he was a Man U fan).
    That season we only used 16 players, they were all great. It was a shame Howe left after that season otherwise who knows what could’ve been but sadly 3 seasons later we were fighting relegation, the double squad broken up way too quick.
    Thanks again!

  64. Rich

    Look at some of Grealish’s stats, only De Bruyne pumps higher numbers, but De Bruyne does it in a team full of superstars to back him up

    Grealish is a match winner, in fine margin games, he pushes the margins in his teams favour on a consistent basis

    Using the analogy of selling Grealish for £80 million

    Is like saying we should have sold Henry to Chelsea in 2003 for £80 million, or sold Vieira to Madrid or United for £45 million in 2001

    We made the mistake of selling Cole to Chelsea over £5,000 p/w

    While Monreal was a good left back, it’s taken us 15 years to stake a genuine claim for having the league’s best left back

    Fans are still waiting for the next Vieira, and as fans we might never have the pleasure of seeing anyone quite like Henry again in an Arsenal shirt

    If as I suspect over the next 15 years the market is flooded with really top talent, then money will become less of a deciding factor, and wages, transfer fees, and agent fees, will naturally balance out

    But until that happens, the players who consistently push the fine margins in their teams favour, should be priceless to a club like Arsenal

    It’s why I wouldn’t currently sell Saka for £200 million, unless he kicked up a stink, or got down to his last year on his deal, and flat refused to sign

    We failed to add talent after 2007/08, and 2010/11, and instead sold off the Crown Jewels, and then sold RVP in 2012, who then went to win United the title, because at the time, he was the leagues best striker

    And we’ve not been able to create a really exciting team since 2010/11

    We had a chance in 2015/16, but that was more down to the poor quality of the division, rather than anything we were dishing up

    Had we signed Suarez in 2013, then I suspect we’d have won at least 1 title, because Suarez was one of the worlds top players, who consistently won football games for his team

  65. alexanderhenry

    Interesting a lot of posters are saying that the 71 double side was broken up too quickly.
    I dimly remember us losing Brady and then Stapleton in the early 80s.

    That put arsenal firmly in the doldrums until GG arrived. Spurs had all the exciting players in the early 80s and arsenal drifted.

    Later on, I vividly recall how the invincibles were dismantled so quickly.

    Maybe arsenal has always been a big club with small club mentality.

    https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/40-years-on-the-deal-that-made-liam-brady-but-also-set-arsenal-back-by-a-decade-39411806.html

  66. Almuniasaynomore

    Rich
    Your argument regarding grealish is sound but I think the club is deeply scarred by the debacles of Ozil, alexi/Mikhi, willian and prob now aubameyang aswell. From here on in it will be a question of fee,wage and age all being factored as more important than game winning talent. I think we are a long way away from paying for premium priced players again,match winners though they may be. This is Ozil’s true legacy at Arsenal. Even fans are traumatised, we are the only club whose supporters would promote buying a lesser player( buendia) over a proven prem player(grealish) on an economic basis. Wenger indoctrinated us in the latter years to view football as accountants would and we haven’t managed to shed that mindset, thanks to Wenger’s successors and their failings. If I were to argue that utd/city/chelski fans wouldn’t even consider the lack of value grealish presents in terms of fee and wages, a lot of posters would say I was being ridiculous, we cant compete with financially doped clubs. This is now our mindset. We are a disadvantaged club, dwarfed by our rivals with whom we can no longer compete. I’m not buying that Rich,we’re in the top 20,if not top 10, richest clubs in world football . Time for us to start talking the talk and demanding more. As you point out if we rid ourselves of the poor practices that have haunted the club for a decade at least, we are rightly deserving of a place among the elite and that means challenging for titles. Culture change needed among fans also.

  67. Rich

    Alexanderhenry

    Really interesting article

    40 years ago it appears it was exactly the same, Arsenal failed to keep Liam Brady and they drifted from having a team of potential challengers, to drifting away again

    Brady went to Juventus and was part of a team that won back to back titles

    Arsenal’s consistency has been remarkable though, we’ve only finished outside the top 10 once since 1975/76 season

    We’ve only finish below 8th on 3 occasions since 1975/76, this season could be our 4th

    We’ve been spoilt, particularly with some of the football we witnessed in the decade from 1998-2008, we had a fantastic first 11 in 2010/11 as well

    The title winning teams of 89 + 91 weren’t great to watch, but we’re built on organisation and ruthless efficiency, I’d imagine they were horrible to play against

    KSE need to realise that in a global market, if this generation of Arsenal teams don’t catch the imagination of kids growing up, then we’ll very quickly fall behind the rest off the pitch, and it’ll becoming even more difficult to catch them up on the pitch

  68. andy1886

    As much as the arrival of AW turned the club around so did the the signing of DB10 in 1995. You may recall we finished 12th the season previous, and then went out and spent £7.5m on Dennis (a PL reord at the time and three times our previous record paid for Ian Wright) plus an additional £4.75m on David Platt.

    In short showing ambition and investing in real talent can pay huge dividends and impact the direct a club takes for decades.

    Spurs on the other hand paid £4.5m for Chris Armstrong just days after we signed Dennis which just goes to show that money which an eye for a player is a recipie for disaster, something we’ve learnt to our cost over the last decade.

  69. andy1886

    Sorry Rich I don’t agree at all that the title winning teams of ’89 and ’91 weren’t great to watch. We scored goals and were entertaining. The likes of Rocky, Davis, Marwood, Limpar, and Merson were skillful and intelligent players (despite what you might think listening to Merse on the box).

    I prefer the pace and power game we played then which was similar to the one played in Wenger’s early years. I’m not a fan of the tippy tappy stuff, I’d much rather see players take on opponents and beat them than take a dozen passes to move the ball precisely nowhere as we see now.

    Each to their own.

  70. andy1886

    On the players having a real connection with the fans the day we won the title in ’91 was pretty special too. Having faced all sorts of challenges that season one of my highlights was the fans all around the ground singing “You can stick your fucking two points up your arse!” to the FA who had docked us the said two points following the ‘brawl’ at OT.

  71. NJ Gooner

    Thank you Bertie,

    I am a little younger than you but I remember attending many of the games that you discuss, including standing in the North Bank for the 6-2 win over West Brom. Your description brought chills down my spine.

    My only surprise is that you didn’t mention the couple of screamers that Charlie George scored against Newcastle (at least one that double year) and the funny time when Charlie tried to take elocution lessons!

    Here is a link to those goals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TW41P5KQGg

    We need more like that tomorrow.

    I missed much of the 80s because I moved to the US and couldn’t get games in the US then. Indeed, I would wait on tenterhooks for commentary on the World Service and for the newspaper reports to arrive by mail, sent unerringly by my Dad every week.

    But the 70s were great days, in part because we had waited so long for success.

    Like you, I remain a resolute, if somewhat dispirited, Gooner.

  72. Rich

    Almuniasaynomore

    I’m not making the argument for Arsenal signing Grealish for £80 million and £200k p/w +

    There’s no resale value, and he’s had a few injuries recently, I was more making the argument for why Villa would reject big bids while he’s winning them football games consistently

    I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed if we signed him, but I see much more value in Pedro Neto, who’s been the best player on the pitch every time I’ve seen Wolves play this season, he’s really shone in a team that are currently transitioning with some younger players

    I don’t just think he’s very good, I think he’s exceptional, a similar level of talent to Saka, he’s a player who I think will develop into one of the leagues stand out players

    I like a team with real quality in wide areas, with players centrally attacking the box in numbers

    Liverpool’s team in recent years, or United under Sir Alex Ferguson for 20 years

    Interestingly Sir Alex Ferguson said he got the theory from how ground wars are won

    The idea of Saka + Neto on opposing wings, Tierney and a quality flying right back on the other side, with a real penalty box striker who also offers pace in behind, is how I’d like this team to evolve

    The difference in our team without Tierney is day and night, and losing one player shouldn’t nullify our attack in the way it does

    It’s why I think squad balance currently hurts us much more than poor tactics or poor coaching

    Guardiola inherited the most expensively assembled squad in history, had months to plan his arrival, spent £200 million, and finished 3rd and pot-less

    He then spent another £180 million, then another €60 million on a centre half in the January, in order to win his first titles

    He’s spent over £800 million since 2016,

    Our decline has been coming down the tracks for a good few years, without drastically improving the way we operate as a club, then I fear things will get worse before they get any better, it’s certainly a big summer ahead

    Completely agree with your comment that we can compete within our resources, the problem in recent years hasn’t been a lack of spending, our problem has been our awful allocation of funds, alongside non existent squad planning

  73. Chris

    Andy1886

    As a ten year old in that summer of 1995 I was so excited when we signed Bergkamp and Platt (who back then came with a real aura of superstardom as he played in Serie A, believe it or not the top league in the world at the time). I was convinced we were going to win the league.

    We showed real ambition then but I also recall is spending heavily in the summer of 2001. However aside from Campbell none of the players who joined, such as Richard Wright, Jeffers and to a lesser extent Gio ban Bronxkhorst, had a big impact on the first eleven. It was almost the same as 2000/01, something to be said about not disrupting a team too much with new signings, if you have a solid base and quality to start with.

  74. Karsa

    Great link there NJ Gooner.

    I travelled to Newcastle to witness that last goal. Brings back good memories of football matches with my Dad.

  75. Danish Gooner

    Football history means nothing to soulless Americans they dont give a tosh about Alan Sunderland,Tony Woodcock ,Paul Mariner those players were my boyhood idols.I still remember a 3-1 victory against the almigty Pool in the early eighties it made my fucking year not week but year.But soulless clubs like City and Chelsea Will never dwarf Arsenal No matter how many bought titlens they Can get Their Hands On,come On Gooners !!!

  76. AFC Forever

    Andy, yes amazing when you consider Rioch was in charge when we bought DB10. Bergkamp made a huge difference, one of our finest ever signings. Wrighty said he couldn’t believe his luck.

  77. AFC Forever

    Danish

    “Soulless clubs like City and Chelsea Will never dwarf Arsenal No matter how many bought titles they can get Their Hands on”

    Yes. People think football only existed in the PL era. I can remember going nuts when Alan Sunderland, scored the winner in the Cup Final. From leading 2-0 to suddenly ending up 2-2, I was in pieces. Then the mop of hair slid in at the far post & won us the game. Great memories of a different time.

  78. Habesha Gooner

    This is really fascinating to read. It helps those of us that know Arsenal in recent times connect with the past. It is actually an escape from where we are right now. 👏👏👏

  79. Almuniasaynomore

    Rich
    I wasn’t really arguing for the signing of Judas,I mean grealish, either. I too would love to see Neto. My gripe was how we as arsenal fans can no longer hope for the best despite our wealth. I bet there were no fans in ’95 saying ‘ Bergkamp, wow,but can we afford this?’. No way. And that was pre-Wenger.. But now we couldn’t dream of purchasing the best. And we as fans accept this and if any fan dare question this he is described as entitled or plastic. It is this attitude, along with many other problems granted, that is corroding the club. We are a massive club. We are better than this .We are Arsenal. Time to bring in a manager who shares our dreams and echoes our thoughts, not one who seeks to peddle the poor mouthed approach of our owners and actively participate in foisting that mentality upon us. Arteta does not resonate with Arsenal, its values,traditions or fans. The owners are frauds,granted, but a manager like that fir a club like ours? No ,no and no.

  80. jwl

    Rioch season is when i first paid attention to football. Worked in gooner pub on essex road and i remember angry conversations about whether george graham was a villian or not and then i would ask about who is DB10 and anger would stop and everyone overjoyed, they could not believe we signed DB10.

  81. The Bard

    Brilliant article Bertie. I’m the same age so all those memories are right up there. Charlie’s collapse was the go to celebration on a wet Sunday back in the day. Wonderful to read

  82. Rich

    Back in 2001 we agreed to pay Sol Campbell a reported £100,000 p/w, which was massive at the time

    To get an experienced PL player of that type of quality, who was just coming into his prime, and from our local rivals. was massive, particularly as the old guard was coming towards the end

    Ashley Cole was brilliant, but it was much easier for a young player to come into an established and stable backline, full of quality and experienced players to help guide him

    Than it would be to bring in a young player into our back line now, which has had no real stability for years, and at times has been utterly chaotic

    Stability is such an underrated aspect of building success,

    Taking our time with talented coaches, and building a young team over a 2-4 year period is our best way back

    The issue with that is how knee jerk fans can be around young players,
    alongside our ability 2-3 years into the project, of tying down the Crown Jewels, so we can see the benefits of the fruits of our labor

    Negative and toxic environments aren’t ideal for building young teams,

    Saka is 19 and Smith-Rowe 20, both players should develop into consistent goal + assist players over the next few years, which in fine margin games, at key moments, will win us more football games

    But we have to wait for that natural development of their games, and unfortunately the established players are really flaky, and can’t be relied upon

  83. rollen

    Great post!
    There should be mandatory club history test for all players!
    Those twats have no passion or pride and no idea what they represent its just $$$ those days.

  84. Danish Gooner

    I would give my left arm for an Arsenal cl win but with owners like the Kroenkes who Will never ever take a financial risk and who uses Arsenal as Their retirement plan i am sure i Will never ever experience it.

  85. S23

    Great post indeed,
    I remember sitting next to Frank Mclintock on the underground and being amazed how humble he was.
    I loved the late eighties teams,but I feel we have gone full circle and are back to being a good cup side as we were when I first started to support us in the seventies.
    We have a loser mentality at the club and an imposter coach.
    I have not seen any real improvement in establishing an identity in how the team plays,and cannot accept that Arteta hasnt had a proper preseason as a viable excuse.
    Neither have all of the teams above ours,many of which are not as expensive as ours.
    I wanted Arteta to suceed but he is massively out of his depth as are his backroom staff.
    Thanks for the trips down memory lane,chaps,a good break from the monotony of our atrocious season .
    We are all Gooners and will outlast the owners and Coaches.

  86. Rich

    David Dein used to show new players around Highbury, and teach them all about our history

    Apparently when Ian Wright signed at almost 28, Dein challenged him to go on and beat Cliff Bastin’s goal record

    Wrighty took the challenge head on, and went on to do that very thing

    Is anyone at Arsenal currently teaching the likes of Martinelli + Balogun about Henry’s record, and challenging them to chase it down?

  87. DivineSherlock

    I got goosebumps just reading it , imagine being there ! One of the best posts ever in recent years , Thank you for writing this . I am sure once Kroenke fucks off , we will get those days back.

  88. Valentin

    Do you think that Vinay or Raul (when Martinelli joined) know Henry’s record?

    Anyway going forward as most of the staff would have been made redundant, a StatDNA robot will greet the new recruits, while Edu and Arteta just pose for the official photos.

  89. Ray+in+LA

    Enjoyed your article very much…brought back so many happy memories

    I was going to reinforce how tight it was at the end — because of goal average, a 0-0 draw would have won us the title, a 1-1 draw would have cost us the title

    Amused you never mention the opponents in the Cup Final 🙂

    Thanks again

  90. Rich

    Talent alone is never enough, it’s the mentality of the players, and the mentality within the group that usually separates the winners from the losers

    This is where football is about to get interesting, over the past 18 years we’ve seen huge advancements in sports science, PL players were running on average just over 31% further per game between 2003 + 2014

    Where they’ve gone now is into neurosciences, particularly around the areas of muscle memory, and imprinting not just technical skills, but also changing the way people think, and how they’ll instinctively deal with stress + pressure situations, as well as imprinting tactical understanding into a players psyche

    In the same way you don’t have to think about going to the cupboard and getting a glass, and then to the tap to get water, you do it instinctively

    They’ll implement habits into players at a very young age, and those habits will and behaviours will become second nature, the early they do this the better

    This won’t just change the entire face of football and other professional sports by tapping into potential, and being able to maximise that potential in huge numbers

    It will also potentially change the way we teach young people in this country in all aspects of education and development

    It’ll even go as far as looking into IQ, emotional IQ, and aptitude tests, in order to tap into the natural ability that people have for certain things

    As per usual the civil service will have to be dragged into this century kicking and screaming, thank god for the private sector

  91. andy1886

    Nelson, seriously?

    Might have something to do with our move from Woolwich to North London in 1913 (Spurs considered it ‘their’ patch) and followed with our promotion to the top flight in 1919 at the expense of Spurs who were relegated (the league was expanded by adding two additional clubs and Spurs expected to survive being relegated but in a vote of member clubs Arsenal were elected despite finishing sixth in division 2 and Spurs went down). Spurs contended that Arsenal chairman and general dodgy dealer Sir Henry Norris ‘fixed’ the vote.

    Worth a read up on that, it’s interesting stuff.

  92. andy1886

    Rich, for all the fitness and sports science are they better players though? I’m not convinced. Better athletes maybe but better footballers? Not in my opinion.

  93. andy1886

    In fact Rich what you’re describing sounds more like programming robots. Sports like football appeal beacause of the natural skill of the best players and the unpredictability of the game. Who wants to watch a sport where everything is reduced to an algorythm, where players have their reactions to every concievable scenario predetermined? Take away the human element and the game is done.

  94. Nelson

    Thanks Andy. I find Everton and the Pools are plain derby relationship. The atmosphere between the Spuds and Arsenal is poisonous.

  95. WengerEagle

    Nice write-up Bertie. Decades before my time but I enjoy reading about it, found the Charlie George story sad.

    Shows the disconnect between a lot of modern players and the club’s history.

  96. AFC Forever

    Andy

    “In fact Rich what you’re describing sounds more like programming robots”

    This is the problem when kids are being taken into academies at age 6. They are creating players, kids who haven’t got natural talent yet. In the old days, we were scouted in our teens and we could already play. I was at Fulham and Millwall but Dad couldn’t get time off to take me at 4pm twice a week, halfway across London. I ended up going into non-league at around 18 (when I could drive), which was an eye-opener. Bad injury ended that. It’s changed now, footballers are being created and sent halfway around the world. I worry that it’s all about percentages and stats, the days of ‘dribblers’ are numbered. People care more about possession and pass completion stats, it’s all Sky and BT go on about. It’s like the X-Factor now.

  97. Rich

    Andy1886

    Not sure I buy that

    Being able to produce players like Saka, Foden, Sancho, Mbappe, in higher quantities. will improve the overall competitiveness of football, and reduce the benefits of additional revenue

    We’re already beginning to see a slight ripple, British talent is beginning to be produced in higher quantities than at any point during my lifetime

    Over the next few years that ripple will turn into a giant wave

    Programming young people with better habits would certainly be a good thing overall

    As would learning how to identify natural talents and abilities of young people, and then having the correct data to input, in order for that person to maximise their potential

    If we can identify highly intelligent kids from all backgrounds, and then put them with other highly intelligent kids as a breeding ground for ideas and innovation, then they’ll become our future leaders and innovators, that can then lead this country into the sunlit uplands

    Far too many youngster go to Uni because they want to better themselves, but have no idea what they’re good at

    So they do some useless degree in the arts, and end up with £50k+ debts, and other than living the Uni experience, are none the wiser for that investment into their futures

    Far too many talented kids are slipping through the cracks, we need to identify individual talents, and then input the right data to help nurture that talent

    Unfortunately until they learn to either teach common sense and pragmatism, or produce it in a vaccine, we’ll only be winning half the battle

    Right now in this country, the most educated people are also the stupidest people, which basically means we need to change the way we educate people and with real urgency

    Instead of turning young people into victims, we need to program them with a ruthless “can do” attitude

  98. Sid

    Students are not customers or consumers.Art has the power to sustain, to heal, to humanize

    Lowering the cost of education, of management structures and finding alternatives to auxiliary expenses is the way to ensure students dont end up in debt.

  99. Bertie Mee

    I’m very grateful for your kind comments and I’m pleased you found the history compelling . My contact with Pat and Bob and in the past George Graham and the great Frank Mclintock have triggered in me a real resentment for what we are seeing at the club now. Arsenal is a great club with a huge history owned now by mediocre execs who haven’t got a sense of what it means to so many people .
    Hope it’s explained a bit.
    Anyone who can give a bit to Willow it would be so appreciated
    The website is http://www..goonerholicsforever.com

  100. Rich

    Sid

    Students are customers

    They’re investing into their own futures, in order to see a return on that investment

    Living in a free country is all about choice

    People who choose not to go to university, shouldn’t be hit with higher taxes, to fund those that choose to go to university, because that’s the very definition of an unfair system

    We need to help young people make better choices, by helping them to identify where their natural talents and abilities are at a much younger age, that way they’ll be better placed to make better choices

    If you think education is expensive now, you wait until it’s “free”

  101. WengerEagle

    AFC Forever

    Definitely truth to what you are saying re dribblers/maverick types being phased out.

    Used to be an abundance in the game, from the 90s you had Baggio, Bergkamp, Cantona, Hagi, Savicevic, Le Tissier, Ginola, Zola, Prosinecki just to name a few and more my era, 2000’s you had Riquelme, Aimar, Berbatov, Recoba, Totti, Pirlo, etc.

    Even those at the peak in Ronaldo, Zidane, Romario and Rivaldo in the 90s and Henry, Ronaldinho, younger Cristiano Ronaldo and younger Messi were brilliant entertainers as well as being the best players around with the latter too having much more flair and invention in their games.

    It’s all a bit functional now since Messi and Ronaldo changed the game with their efficiency. These maverick types have been phased out and it’s why you see the classic playmaker types like Cesc, Ozil, James when at Real Madrid, Isco struggling to adapt to this newer era.

    Only real flair throwback now is Neymar.

    May make for a more efficient game but it sure as shit doesn’t give us as many great moments to watch.

  102. WengerEagle

    Thomas Muller leading the assist table two seasons running now shows where the game is at with playmakers, not a more functional elite player about than him.

  103. TheLegendaryDB10

    Excellent read! Thank you Bertie!!

    This was really refreshing to hear some memories from a legend of our club no less!!

    Not sure how feasible this is Pedro, but it would be great to have posts like this from time to time. (Maybe during interlulls?)

  104. Zizi

    Thanks Bertie/ Pedro for remembering that wonderful night at WHL when we won the league. I got to the ground 2 hours before kick off and got in to the standing middle section area just before the start wedged amongst only Spurs supporters. When Kennedy scored, I couldn’t contain myself and let out a might roar and got whacked on my head for doing so but I didn’t care. Gilzean nearly equalised but it was heart stopping moments until the ref blew for full time.
    Years later I did a tour of the new Highbury and John Radford was our guide. We had a great chat and reminisced about the “good old days”.
    Only Tierney and our current crop of youngsters have the passion and feeling what it means to put on the red and white jersey.

  105. bacaryisgod

    Bertie

    Fantastic article. You really landed the big punch in the first paragraph with the Charlie George anecdote. How can it not be possible for the current players to be sat down 10 minutes before a video review session, shown a few minutes of that season and welcome a legend like Charlie George for a round of applause and a few comments?

    I really would have thought Arsene would have been smart enough when he was manager to see the benefits of connecting the players to the club’s history and legendary figures. You would only need to do it a couple of times a season anyway.

    For all the time we spend on dissecting everything with the current squad, it’s interesting to think that in about 50 years this current squad won’t even warrant a footnote in the club’s history. If the 1970-71 squad are ignored by the current squad after having 750,000 turn out for a victory parade, imagine how insignificantly this group will be seen 50 years from now? Some consolation, I guess.

    Thanks again Bertie.

  106. bacaryisgod

    By the way, it would be nice if the byline was fixed. It was a little confusing thinking that Pedro is an exact contemporary of Charlie George at the beginning of the article. I know this season has aged him but that was a little much!

  107. Guns of SF

    WE

    Good analysis

    Only real flair throwback now is Neymar.

    May make for a more efficient game but it sure as shit doesn’t give us as many great moments to watch.

  108. China1

    Rich it’s still not that simple about buying and selling

    Liverpool sold Suarez and countinho and a few years later won the CL and the league

    It was the money from selling their best players that funded the improvements to the team.

    So it’s not a question of should you sell or keep your best players, it’s a question of if you sell, for how much? And what should you do with the money? Get either of those two questions wrong (like arsenal consistently did with Henry cesc etc) then yeah you get stung

  109. China1

    Rich part of the problem is it’s not that simple for many people to know what to do with their future

    I was one of those kids in a sense. I was an A-B grade student at school for most subjects. I was interested in everything pretty much. Lots of hobbies. Picked my favourite subjects at college (German, philosophy and Geography), did fine in those. Then still wasn’t sure what to do with my life. Took 2 years out unsure what to do. Even enrolled in a music school. Then quit that. Then panicked that I felt I was getting older with no idea about the future so I went to uni to study city planning. And the only reason I chose that topic was because 1) it’s related to geography and 2) it’s an actual job. So at the end of the course if I still didn’t know what to do with my life I could be a planner until I worked it out…. due to visa difficulties for my then girlfriend ended up coming to China as a teacher then switched into Finance IT project management

    I can’t speak for everyone but for me personally knowing what to do with my career has always been very difficult. I always admired those people who just liked one thing because they knew what to focus on. For people with broad interests I still don’t know how you’re supposed to choose.

    It’s an enormous weight on young people’s shoulders making these decisions because they will have lasting significance for most people and you don’t want to get it wrong. I believe such uncertainty and pressure is one (of several) factors that contributes to depression in our youth.

    Go back a hundred years or whatever and the obvious thing is I’d just be a journalist like my dad. Job done. Don’t worry about it. That’s got it’s own problems too but at least you don’t need to worry about choosing. Don’t worry about it just do it.

    We live in an age where everyone is so free to do whatever they want and whilst that unshackles them in so many ways it dumps an unbelievable amount of pressure on them as well

  110. China1

    The same issue lies with information availability in the world today

    The internet, 24h news and social media has made it so we have an endless barrage of detailed info about all the wrongs of the world coming down our throats.

    For anyone who is a caring person who wants to do the right thing it’s damn near impossible to live a normal life anymore. The chicken you just ate suffered because it wasn’t free range. The palm oil in the product you just used came from deforestation in Brazil. This shampoo was tested on animals. You driving to work is contributing to global warming which is going to fuck us all and even more so our kids. Countries around the world are doing bad things and there are scandals left right and center.

    The more you care about doing the right thing the more you get forced into this appallingly limited corner of society if you want to not support it.

    It’s an enormous weight on young people’s shoulders who grow up full of ideals but need to basically be the second coming of Jesus if they are to not also be guilty

  111. China1

    I’m fairly certain my brothers suicide can be attributed to the latter issue of being an amazing person who suffered from information overload. (That along with a chronic lack of sleep on his part)

    He was someone who would fight to do the right thing at any cost. But just because humans have built this remarkably complex society, it doesn’t mean we’re well equipped to live in it. We are the same animals that came out of caves not so long ago. Now we need to individually be responsible for saving the world. It’s a terrible burden for what is essentially just a less hairy monkey…

  112. Tony

    If this is true, I am going to be a very happy Gooner!

    REVEALED: Arsenal ARE up for sale just days after Stan Kroenke insisted he will not entertain any offers for the club with under-fire owner quoting a £1.7BILLION price to possible buyers two years ago

    Arsenal are up for sale despite owner Stan Kroenke insisting otherwise
    fans are calling for the American to sell up after European Super League farce

    Spotify billionaire Daniel Ek has expressed an interest in buying the club

    Mail on Sunday understands Gunners have effectively been for sale for two years

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-9533211/Arsenal-sale-despite-owner-Stan-Kroenke-insisting-otherwise.html

  113. Tony

    So, Mr EK or Dangnote or a financial consortium or a new buyer?

    I guess until we know what bids have been offered or are going to be offered, if there are going to be offers and this isn’t another DM click bait, it’s difficult to know who to favour.

    Personally, I’d like an owner who lives on the same continent. An owner who is going to commit to the club with money and attending games.

    Most important an owner who is a fan first and when it comes to all things The Arsenal a businessman who genuinely understands our history, as Bertie Mee brilliantly wrote about here, the fans’ suffering over the last 12+ years and who has a plan/ strategy to have is challenging for the top honours: PL and CL trophies within a couple of seasons.

    Equally important the new owner hires a DoF (Rangnick, Overmars, Compos) to execute his vision for the club and a manager/head coach (Nagelsmann, Erik Ten Hag or Hans Flick ) with a highly experienced ‘winners’ coaches who can complement the manager and DoF’s structured process with the latest coaching installing a long term-footballing identity and winning mindset to the players through to the academy.

    Finally a footballing savvy or sports CEO to keep both the footballing targets and commercials on track working closely with the DoF at all times.

    It would be so good again to be going into a game having a good idea of the settled team selection and what the manager wants from that selection on the pitch before the game.

    Instead of waiting nervously for the team sheet to be published having no clue who is going to be picked and what level the handbrake is going to be applied; the only 2 constants we’ve had with the Arteta era.

    My final wish is that the fans finally unite with the new owner/management dream team and forget the past fractured fans’ divisions that will finally get our Arsenal back we al want whether we are long term fans from the 60s or have just become a fan.

    Here’s hoping the club is bought and the new owner puts the pride back into the shirt again.

  114. Tony

    Back to today’s game.

    We need a convincing win today to take forward to Thursday’s meeting with Emery for the 2nd leg and again the most important game of the season.

  115. Guns of SF

    China
    I hear you man. My condolences for your brother. I can imagine how hard that must be. I live in Silicon valley and I can tell you, the rates of depression and suicide with young ppl is quite high. even adults in this area.
    Schools, and companies are trying to be more proactive in getting those who need help support. However, the reasons you mentioned above are distressing for a lot of folks. As much as I chide Millenials, its harder I think for them given all the options they have, and how easy it is to just jump around if things dont work out. but it comes with a costs eventually.
    I gen x. I had to pick a career and work for it and towards it. Not many options and switching is harder, especially now folks in their 40s. Many stay in dead end jobs, or careers they chose in their 20’s – folks change over time but changing jobs is not as easy
    So we have our own set of challenges too.

    Options, and technology has made it harder for young folks I feel. Sometings are easier for sure. Other things are harder….

    having 2 kids, 10 and 14, I think of these things a lot. My daughter has some struggles already and I am not sure the classic 4 year college path is for her. She is bright, but also struggles with anxiety and depression. She is getting help and getting better but she is a kid who does not fit the normal mold …

  116. Tony

    Arteta’s pre match interview:

    ‘Well, I don’t want to think that way,’ Arteta said when asked if he feared the sack. ‘I want to think that we are going to be in that [Europa League] final and then we are going to have really positive consequences after that.’

    ‘It is for many different reasons,’ he explained: ‘One we haven’t had the opportunity to have a very consistent line up. Consistency in results in the Premier League is very different to the Europa League, where we have been very consistent.

    ‘But in the league we haven’t for many different reasons, one of those is the line up, another is the amount of errors that we have produced in key moments, another is the lack of effectiveness in the final third I would say, to kill games off. Another is because the opponent has sometimes been better.

    ‘We try to be as clear as we can all the time in our messages but sometimes the opponents gets it right from the beginning. I think it was crucial against Villarreal that they scored early and how we reacted after that.

    ‘There are some games where we have started really well and not finished that well. So I don’t think there has been a pattern over the season.’

    And while fans, pundits and players alike seem to have struggled to keep up with his relentlessly changing formations and tactics, Arteta admits he has been unable to deliver desired results for so many reasons.

    Words from a very confused man who is confusing all around him with his vagaries.

  117. Tony

    Guns/China
    I really feel for you with your brother, China.

    Anxiety and depression seems to be commonplace among the millennials and others.

    Our daughter also has similar issues, but has a very sponge like brain for information. Her doctor says she’s typical of bright youths today who occupy the spectrum in one part or another, such as ADHD my son suffers from, but is equally bright gaining a seat at our daughter’s highly sought after private school.

    Guns, I went through hell with our adopted daughter during her puberty made far worse by the anxiety and depression. It took 5 years to help her through that stage where she was studying at least 14 hours a day with school, extra classes and homework, such is the Thai education system.

    We collectively decided with our daughter to let her go for a year on a student exchange 17 where she chose America’s tri-state region. We helped her choose a family who’s father was a DA and the mother was a behavior scientist and who had a son 1 year older and a daughter 3 years younger.

    Our daughter came back a year later different in many ways – certainly more confident and outward. She forced herself to get on the swim team and actually passed all her final year graduating exams even though she was a year below by age.

    She still suffers and has a newly graduated Dr boyfriend who really understands her continuing anxiety and depression, as we do. She’s accepted she needs meds to help her over the worst of her issues as they appear.

    She took on one of the toughest double degree programs in Aerospace engineering and came first in an all male year for her first degree with a GPA of 3:78.

    Guess what I’m saying Guns is expect the unexpected with your daughter. We never thought our daughter would attain such heights academically or survive away from home for such a long period.

    Our son is now finding his own way with his ADHD with us in close attendance. His harnessing his hyperactivity and slowly reducing his daily tablet with his Dr monitoring him with us. Right now, he wants to be a professional golfer having just taken up the sport.

    New sport bounce?

    Possibly, but as a near 13 year old his getting the odd par and quite a few bogies where his carry is over 300 meters. He has a golf pro and his now golf pro son teaching our lad, so we’ll see how that progresses.

    Problem is I have no idea about golf having never really liked the sport. I just have his pros comments, so I’m going to have to learn as much as I can in support.

    My wife plays and it’s the pro who taught her that is teaching our son.

    As a back job up our son wants to get into coding – nothing simple then!

    However, he went from being in th last 10 of his class to the top ten in his graduating year learning 3 languages on the way: Thai, English and a poor Cantonese at the moment.

    Now I have to guide him through puberty. Ye haw.

    For us it was the combination of the right Drs and our own continuous reading for understanding of the issues and trusting our kids at the right time that worked for them.

    My wife and I having ADHD has helped our understanding not only of our son but of ourselves through our son.

    Hope that helps Guns if nothing else that you’re not alone in your plight with your children.

    Anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD and the rest of the alphabet soup is commonplace this days.

    Far more than people realize where if they did realize, there would be less stigma attached for the kids and parents alike.

  118. Guns of SF

    Thanks Tony, she does have ADHD too. Seems like these come in a package. ADHD/anxiety and depression.

    OCD closely tied in too

    My wife has the Anxiety/ADHD so I am sure its a genetic link too

  119. China1

    Guns thanks and all the best with your kids

    Yeah I don’t think millennials and the new kiddos necessarily have a harder life than those before them, like you said the challenges we face are simply different. But I do think there’s a lot of misunderstanding from the elder generations about why the youngsters of today seem to be finding life hard in spite of all the ways in which life appears to be better and easier than when they were young

    One thing I’ve noticed is that in China the problems people face are honestly quite different for the most part compared with those in the west. Chinese kids and adults have a *very* different set of challenges. What the Chinese do well the British do badly and vice versa generally speaking. I’m trying really hard to try and give the best of both and minimize the worst of both for my son but it’s not easy.

    But one life lesson I desperately hope I can impart on him when he’s old enough to understand is that:
    1) the world is a place with a lot of good and a lot of bad. But you aren’t individually responsible for saving it. Pick a few things you care about and make some small steps on helping out, be a good person and you’ve done your bit. The ills of the world shouldn’t all rest on you
    2) these days change is fast and constant. Be comfortable and used to change and it will help you enormously as you navigate through constantly evolving circumstances

  120. MidwestGun

    Late to the party…. But great post … Bertie Mee. Thank You.

    Brings back some memories..

    So my first coach who really taught me the game when I was about 8 years old, absolutely adored Charlie George and therefore was a huge Arsenal fan. As a young boy in the midwest of America …I had never been to England or had no clue what the Arsenal was… but through my coaches love for Arsenal and his favorite player… I became an Arsenal fan over time. And so indirectly… Charlie George is the reason I am an Arsenal fan.. Thanks Coach Brewer.

  121. Tony

    Guns
    It’s true spectrum based issues can come in association with other issues.

    A good friend’s son has ADHD with autism – the combo is quite prevalent.

    It’s also true ADHD can be passed on in the genes, so our son got a double whammy from both my wife and myself.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08ny3mt

    We all found this program extremely useful in understanding more about ADHD.

    At my son’s last school about 1:25 kids had ADHD in varying strengths.

    The most difficult thing for our daughter and son to overcome is processing before acting and the use of right and wrong filters that normally check our actions before we enact them.

    It’s a work in progress and even now I find when angry or just pissed with someone I can act without filters, so have to work hard at that every day.

    Spectrum based people can also have a higher level of success than expected. This is very true of my wife and myself.

    For many, ADHD can be grown out of by around the age of 13/14 or at least be reduced to a very manageable level.

  122. Sid

    Humans are naturally supposed to live in natural spaces, learn to interact with it for food, learn different skills.

    Enclosure by the aristocratic class has created a class of people with no means to survive but labor. The working class.

    The same characters then create the narrative that the only means to learn a skill to survive is ‘investment’ and get you in debt to enslave you.

  123. Rambo

    Imagine being British and proudly wearing ‘China’ as moniker and bigging up Chinese shit at a time when the World suffers due to these people.

    Absolute cvnt

  124. Tony

    Rambo
    You butt hurt now your moniker has the Ramsey part removed because Ramsey did exactly as many here posted and flopped big time in Italy?

    Looks that way with your ‘oldies’ comment at a traditionally very quiet time for the blog.

    Some gooners try to offer help to their fellow gooners if they can offer any information that’s breeds more understanding of an issue or issues.

    Other’s just want to fight and complain about everything through boredom, lack of focus and just plain stupidity.

    Which camp do you fall in, Rambo: compassion or being an arsehole?